Nimba County District #1 Representative, Prince Tokpah, says development in his county is dormant because the Ministry of Finance has failed to disburse county and social development funds belonging to Nimba.
Recently speaking at a program marking the ground breaking of four projects in Nimba under the “Legislative Support Project,” Representative Tokpah stressed that over time members of the county's Legislative Caucus have engaged the Ministry of Finance, urging it to see reason and release the funds for development projects; but all efforts to date have proven futile.
He said Nimba County receives US$1.5 million every year from Arcelor Mittal as part of its social development fund. The county development fund that every county receives is a separate fund. According to the representative, Nimba has over US$4 million that the Ministry of Finance is failing to release; this, he alleged, is causing citizens to blame the legislators for failing them.
“Delays on the part of the Ministry of Finance to release our social and county development funds are causing our people to blame us. Not that we are not doing anything to protect their interest, but the Ministry of Finance has failed to release the money allowing us to do so; and because you are not aware of how government works, you blame us. If our money is not released, we will organize ourselves and approach the issue so that concerns will be raised,” Representative Tokpah explained.
The Nimba lawmaker said the withholding of the county's funds is deliberate as far as caucus members are concerned. He vowed not to relent, and to use every means possible to get to the Finance Minister.
In addition to the county development funds, Representative Tokpah also said the Government of Liberia contracted yellow machines belonging to Nimba County to grate damaged roads in 2012 with the consensus that it (government) would pay the difference to the county since the machines were meant for farm-to-market roads.
According to the representative, since 2012 government has not attempted to pay the money it owes the county.
In separate remarks, Ganta City Mayor Dorr Cooper, rhetorically stated that it would be better if government prepares a billboard with the inscription that the Executive Mansion is renovated by Nimba rather than fail to fulfill the promise made since 2012.
He said Nimba should not be the only county the Government of Liberia owes every year; therefore, what it owes must be made available to enhance development in their respective districts.
When the Ministry of Finance was contacted on April 21, Deputy Minister for Administration, Jordan Slunteh, said the Ministry of Finance disbursed US$1.2 million to Nimba on September 6, 2013.
Minister Slunteh said the Ministry has not disbursed the rest of the money on the grounds that procedures leading to the disbursement need to be followed, and therefore they cannot be disbursed when those conditions set have not yet been met.
County caucuses in recent years have come under fire for the mismanagement of County Development Funds. Most notable was the 2013 "You eat, I eat" recording in which Montserrado County Representative Edward Forh was heard trying to convince Superintendant Grace Kpaan to embezzle funds meant for the development of the county.
Representative Forh is still in office. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf accepted Superintendent Kpaan's resignation.